The San Diego Padres finished fourth in the National League West but were not buried in a difficult division. San Diego is moving in the right direction as an organization but unfortunately for their immediate success, the competition is also on the rise. The west features the defending World Series Champions and the most improved team in the National League. An inactive off-season was still productive in terms of maintaining the core of their lineup. San Diego lacks established fantasy baseball options but has a few players that will open the season under the fantasy radar.
Chase Headley was the best player that nobody talked about in 2012. San Diego was never in a pennant race so his achievements went unrecognized. After an undistinguished career, Headley shattered his career highs in his fourth full season. His previous bests had been 12 home runs and 64 RBIs but Headley posted 31 homers and 115 RBIs en route to a fifth place finish in the MVP voting. Without a long-term strategy for keeping the 28-year-old Headley, the top teams are preparing to move in. He should be in a Padres uniform until the trade deadline but their first-half success will dictate where he plays out the end of the season.
San Diego has a set of young bats that will keep their lineup from being taken too lightly. Yonder Alonso, Cameron Maybin, Everth Cabrera and Jedd Gyorko will probably all go undrafted but are worth monitoring as fantasy alternatives once the season gets underway.
Alonso, Maybin and Cabrera all have major league experience but lack any standout seasons. They are entering the point in their careers that their talent should begin to translate into results at the plate.
Gyorko is acknowledged as a top-three prospect in the San Diego organization and should open the season as the starting second baseman. At age 23, he hit .328 with 24 homers and 83 RBIs in triple-A. His success was no fluke as Gyorko is the owner of a.319 career average in three minor league seasons. He is a sleeper to be a top-10 fantasy player at the thin second base position.
San Diego finished with a staff ERA of 4.01 which was good for 17th best in baseball. They should be even better in 2013 as ace Edinson Volquez should improve in his second season with the club and flamethrower Andrew Cashner will be ready for his first full season. It is a solid rotation from top to bottom with enough talent to keep the formidable NL West lineups in check.
San Diego’s top five fantasy hitters: 1. Chase Headley, 2. Yonder Alonso, 3. Jedd Gyorko, 4. Everth Cabrera, 5. Cameron Maybin
San Diego’s top three fantasy pitchers: 1. Edinson Volquez, 2. Andrew Cashner, 3. Clayton Richard.
San Diego projected record: 74-88
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.